I texted a photo of Lugano to my friend as we passed through on the train. While she lives in the states now, her home is Lugano. Of our trip, she counselled, “eat all the food.” It was my pleasure to comply. I’d like to share with you a stand-out meal from each of our stops. If you happen to be near any of them I highly recommend you check them out.
Once we were finally in Italy our first gastronomical task was to get good pizza. Not the pizza they offer to tourists, but the pizza a true Napolitano would eat. She sent us to Assaje. Was this the new nuvola pizza we had read about? Whatever they called it, it was as cloud-like and heavenly as we had dreamed it would be.
Oh sure, we ate a lot of chocolate and had some amazing gelato. But across the street from our hotel we stumbled into a basement restaurant with a Michelin Star. At Casa Vicino they seated us immediately, served us impeccably, and fed us spectacularly. I remain particularly blown away by their modern take on bagna cauda, which instead of having vegetables for dipping into the sauce, they pureed the vegetables and layered them underneath the sauce. Not only was it absolutely delicious but it was stunningly beautiful as well.
We had watched the videos on preparation. My husband had been planning this meal for years. Nearly the first question we asked the front desk clerks at our hotel was where to get the best Fiorentina steak. Once they realized we were serious in our intentions for a good meal, they unanimously and without hesitation sent us to La Martinicca. As I only eat red meat under special circumstances – it has to be exceptionally good – it was an act of faith in the Florentines and an act of love toward my husband that I agreed to share this steak with him. We were not disappointed! This restaurant delivered and the staff seemed pleased to welcome us to the tribe of those who know and appreciate.
Eighteen years ago we found a small trattorria in which we sought shelter from the pouring rain. I still dream of the bolognese sauce I ate there. When we returned to Bologna this time we ate at Eataly, at the request of our friends. My tagliatelle alla bolognese was good, but not the miracle I remembered from the previous place. My husband and our friends, however, had coltoletto that was divine.
Once we got to Rome we knew we needed an authentic carbonara. Amedeo‘s location so near our hotel and the train station seems like it would be prime pickings to take advantage of tourists but the food stood on its own. I was especially pleased to see that this authentic carbonara was not swimming in thick sauce like the American varieties. Even better, our waitress said that sure it was good but that there was another dish even better. We should get one of each and share them both. Always trust what the waistaff would eat themselves.
While I’ve tried to just highlight the standout singular meal in each place, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the pizza joint by the Colosseum. While not as mind-blowingly amazing as the place in Milano, Pizza Forum delivered a solid Napolitano pizza with the best “dinner with a view” ever.
P.S. Gelato, We Love You
Deserving a section of its own, of course, gelato. As I mentioned previously I prefer to start every cup with a scoop of fondente, a creamy, rich, dark chocolate edible magic. We got gelato from Grom, La Carraia, and Della Palma. All delicious, strongly-referred treats.
And it’s good to see some gelaterias do not take themselves too seriously.
If you’re only passing through the train station do what the locals do and get yourself a bratwurst from the wurst vender near the platforms. (And of course get yourself some train chocolate.) However if you have time for a really good meal, take a short walk to AuGust. They sell their housemade mustard if you find yourself as smitten as us. We were charmed by the truly German vibe of it all, the really amazing sausages, and everything else. While we typically skip dessert or share something small, this time we each got our own dessert. We ordered a couple different sausages. I alternated and with each bite said “this is my favourite one,” then “this is my favourite one.”
Open Table saved the day for us in London. Starving, my husband opened the app and found a well-rated restaurant nearby with an immediate reservation. We clicked the “celebrating anniversary” button because this whole trip was a celebration of our 20th anniversary. Not only did we partake of an amazing assortment of meats and greens, but they surprised us with anniversary mocktails. Forget what you’ve heard about British food and get yourself to Blacklock City.
On the topic of our awesome anniversary meal, today actually is our 20th anniversary. Happy anniversary, Paul. Here’s to decades more of fabulous food.